MICHIGAN — Long-term care facilities across the state began vaccination clinics for staff and residents this week.
The President and CEO of the Healthcare Association, Melissa Samuel said, “This is the day, particularly this sector, has been waiting for.”
It has the potential to be the beginning of the end for rampant COVID-19 cases in skilled nursing, assisted living and, long-term care facilities in Michigan.
“We have reached the tipping point so the vaccine cannot come soon enough for us.”
Samuel said the first vaccine clinics started Monday and will roll out over the next several weeks to more than 440 facilities across the state.
“I think it will take approximately three weeks to get that first dose to everybody. That is our hope and our timeline,” she said.
Each facility has partnered with CVS and Walgreens to administer the Moderna vaccine to roughly 90,000 residents and staff.
“The clinic is held inside the facility, so CVS and Walgreens and their clinicians come into the building. There’s an area designated where staff and residents will be receiving the vaccine,” Samuel said.
Samuel estimates it’ll take anywhere from six to ten weeks before facilities reach full protection.
She said, “It’ll be four weeks before we are able to receive the next dose of the Moderna vaccine. It’s a 28-day period and then you have at least 14 days after that for the vaccine to fully take effect and will be assured that there is good protection in place for the residents and staff.”
Samuel said the pandemic has taken a toll on the residents and staff physical and mental health, especially with strict visitor restrictions for much of the year.
“It’s been incredibly difficult, devastating actually,” she said, “I think staff has been worked to the bone throughout this entire process, over this long a period of time; long shifts, getting the virus themselves.”
Samuel added that this is just the first step in a long road to beating COVID-19 and is asking everyone to stay vigilant in the months ahead.
“The vaccine protects you from getting it, but we still don’t know enough about the fact that will you still be able to transmit it? So the protocols of wearing a mask, handwashing, and social distancing, everything that we’ve been doing to start to bring our numbers down, is critical over the next several months,” she said.
Samuel said that the MDHHS has designated about 170,000 doses of the Moderna vaccine for nursing facilities.
They will also be hosting a third ‘wrap around clinic’ after the second doses have been given out, to make sure they reach everyone who wants it.
Staff and residents are not required to get the vaccine, but are encouraged to do so.